Former Winthrop basketball coach Gregg Marshall knows what it might have sounded like, but said under no circumstances was he forced out of his old job four seasons ago.
Marshall's made headlines lately for ignoring overtures from N.C. State to stay at Wichita State, and told the Wichita Eagle newspaper this week he's "been surprising people my whole coaching career."
"I stayed at Winthrop for nine years," Marshall told the paper. "And was told I had to leave."
Some wondered if that meant he had been shown the door here after a successful nine-year run that included seven NCAA tournament appearances and a 194-83 record.
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"Oh, no," Marshall replied when asked about the quote. "No, no, no, no, no, no. no," adding emphasis with each of the seven succeeding nos.
"I can see how that might be misinterpreted, but that's not what I meant at all."
For much of his run at Winthrop, Marshall was pegged as one of the rising stars of the coaching business. But at every turn, people told him he'd have to take an intermediate step to reach his coaching goals. He bypassed several opportunities, and backed out of an agreement to coach at College of Charleston before coming back to Winthrop.
Even when Wichita State came calling, he was negotiating what he called "a lifetime deal," to stay on as the Eagles' coach.
Marshall said a 10-year deal was being discussed, with what reports pegged as being worth the $400,000 a year range. The stipulation was that to exceed what they were paying him, Winthrop wanted him to sign a deal with no buy-out, which essentially made him honor the length of the deal without the chance to go elsewhere.
When he went to Wichita for $800,000 per year, Winthrop officials knew there was no chance to match.
"He went to about triple what he was making here at the time," Winthrop athletic director Tom Hickman said Wednesday.
Marshall's under contract at Wichita through the 2014-15 season. In addition to his salary, he'll make a $500,000 retention bonus after he completes next season. He's coming off an NIT championship, having beaten Alabama in last week's final to close the season 29-8.
Hickman said he didn't take offense at the quote in question, saying he still talks with Marshall regularly, and had just sent an email congratulating him on the decision to stay at Wichita State.
The reality was that they were likely to lose Marshall eventually anyway, but the coach said the size of the program was never the first priority for him.
"People in the business, the experts, the talking heads and people I consider friends, they all told me I needed to go," Marshall said. "But I didn't believe that and I don't believe that. If I don't work in a BCS conference, if I don't coach in the Final Four, that doesn't mean my career won't be fulfilled.
"When I look at the guys I admire, guys like John Kresse (whom he worked for at Charleston) or Hal Nunnally (his coach at Randolph-Macon), they were able to stay in one place for a long time and be happy, and I don't feel like I have to always chase that next job to be happy."